Obama administration releases proposed offshore drilling plan
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Obama administration today released the proposed offshore drilling program for 2017-2022. The proposed program includes 10 sales in the Gulf of Mexico and one sale each in the Chukchi Sea, Beaufort Sea and Cook Inlet in the American Arctic Ocean. Notably, the proposed program removed the lease sale proposed for the mid- and south-Atlantic Ocean, citing opposition from coastal communities. No leases were offered in the Pacific. The administration will now solicit public comments on the proposed program and Draft Programmatic Environment Impact Statement for 90 and 45 days, respectively.
Friends of the Earth Climate Campaigner Marissa Knodel issued the following response:
President Obama’s decision on whether to allow new drilling off our coasts is a major test of his climate leadership. Removing the Atlantic Ocean from the proposed program is a huge victory for coastal communities that took a strong stand to protect their livelihoods and economies from fossil fuel exploitation.
But by leaving the Arctic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico open to new leasing, the proposed program fails to comply with the Paris Agreement and last week’s commitment with Canada to protect the Arctic based on science. The science is clear: we must keep fossil fuels in the ground, and President Obama’s climate legacy depends on doing just that.
Any new offshore drilling lease is a step toward climate catastrophe and exposes coastal communities and marine wildlife to significant harms from seismic exploration, pollution and spills. President Obama must use his authority to protect our public waters from being turned into energy sacrifice zones by also removing the Arctic and Gulf from new offshore leasing. To start, President Obama should cancel the 43 million acre lease sale scheduled for the Gulf on March 23 at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, where Gulf Coast residents and activists from across the country with rally in opposition to new offshore drilling.